Monday, June 20, 2005

Tom Waits For Coffee at the Highway Cafe



Hello. How's it going? Everyone doin' ok? Miss me? Astounding how naked one feels without a comp-u-ter. How the hell did I survive most of my life without one?

Well, the Mountain is officially back. Call it relaunch number 63 or something. I have a shiny new toy to play with, with lots of fun new features (and an obscene amount of hard drive space...who the hell needs this much? Oh, yeah, music obsessives). The Mountain has one word of advice for y'all. Back up your damn files. Trust me on this.

Anyway.

I'm gonna try real hard to post more often. We make no guarantees here, but I'll do my best.

To celebrate my return, I'm gonna offer up a tune that combines two of the Mountain's favorite subjects: trucking music and a man named Tom.

Warning: Rant.

It seems popular nowadays to take Tom Waits to task for not being "real" enough, or something. I half-assed addressed the subject myself a couple of months ago. Does it really matter? With all the contrived one-hit-wonder imitators littering the blogosphere(I can't believe I just wrote that word) and radio charts (including here, at times), it seems a tad disingenuous to point to a man whose long career belies a lack of overt commercial success as a culprit of pseudo-persona. I can't remember a time, in interviews or print, in which Tom Waits ever pretended to be the person you hear in his various incarnations. He's an actor and a charlatan, sure enough, and a damn good one. Who cares? Elvis was an actor, Dylan was an actor, Joe Strummer was an actor, Mark E. Smith and Billy Childish work in persona, the Ramones built their whole conceit on pseudo-realness. Rap and Blues artists base their careers on playing characters. The list goes on. If we're going to celebrate dull derivative retreads like FranzBlocKillerArcadeSisters, what's the point of questioning the "realness" of someone whose career has at least been interesting, and long-lasting. Hey, I don't care much for Van Halen, but I'm not gonna spend an entire post telling you how contrived they are or aren't. It doesn't matter. You like them or you don't. "Keepin' it real"- What does that mean? Who, exactly, is "keepin' it real"? It's entertainment. Whoop de doo. There's no Tom Waits gun that's pointing at anyone's head. He's no sacred cow...no artist deserves a free pass. But, really, don't listen if you don't like it. But if one is going to rank on the man, come up with a better argument than that you don't know which version of Tom is the real one. The real one is sitting at home with his wife and kids, and is none of our damn business.

Man, I go away, and come back with a chip on my shoulder. Sorry.

End of Rant.

So, again, to mark the return of BigRockCandyMountain, I've got a little affected Tom Waits for ya. It's a truckin' song, written by the esteemed (and equally affected) Kinky Friedman. From the tribute album, Pearls in the Snow.

Tom Waits: Highway Cafe (mp3)

Please consider buying your fave music, real or not, at your local independent retailer. Thanks.

4 comments:

Maxim de Winter said...

Great, looking forward to hearing this - I never managed to track down the Kinky tribute, he's written some great songs (as well as some pretty damn bad ones). I'm particularly fond of Wild Man From Borneo, off of his first rekkid. It is both sad and beautiful, and one of the few sad and beautiful songs written from the point of view of a circus freak.

C. said...

Welcome back!! And I'm with you on your rant, every last word of it. There's nothing more dull than an artist who truly believes every word he/she says...

Reverend Frost said...

I remember an old girlfriend who really hated Waits's music.
Well, the police didn't find the body yet.
Welcome back!

Anonymous said...

Hey Mr. Big Rock,

Welcome Back!!
I know what you mean about backing up. My computer crashed a while back and I basically lost everything on it. Oh well.

John (from Milw)